Bruce Sterling on 26 Sep 2000 17:29:36 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] That Nettime Darling, Pyramid Schemes

The Wheels of Justice Grind Mighty Slow *8-/

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled on 18
September that individual victims of fraudulent pyramid
investment schemes have the right to file fraud charges on an
individual basis, the "Albanian Daily News" reported.
Following the collapse of seven large pyramid investment
schemes in 1997, courts rejected considering individual
charges brought against the owners of the schemes.

	So far, courts have accepted only cases brought forward
by the Prosecutor General's office. Prosecutors Bilbil Mete
and Ajaz Gjeta welcomed the Supreme Court's decision, but
added that it comes very late. In any event, trials on an
individual basis are likely to lead to tougher prison
sentences than the previous trials.

	The operators of two pyramid schemes--Vebi Alimucaj of
VEFA and Mustafa Leka--have already received five-year
sentences, but in new trials the maximum sentence could be as
high as life imprisonment. VEFA had 66,000 investors and
accumulated debts of $108 million. Leka had 3,400 investors
and accumulated debts of $9 million.

	The largest pyramid scheme was Gjallica. Its owner,
Shemsie Kadria, faces up to 25 years in jail if sued directly
by the 75,000 investors in her scheme. She has debts of $372
million. Altogether, investors lost an estimated $1.5 billion
in pyramid schemes. (Fabian Schmidt)

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